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Community Peer Mentor Project

Community Peer Mentors

Who we are...   

The Community Peer Mentors are commissioned by the Durham Police Crime and Victims Commissioners (PCVC) Office; for County Durham and Darlington. We have been running for 4 years and our great success has been largely due to our amazing volunteers, as we have actively recruited over 300 people with lived experiences, coordinated by 6 paid members of staff. The Community Peer Mentors helps support the PCVC plan; to inspire confidence in the police and criminal justice system, support victims and the vulnerable.

We Aim to:

Ø  Support vulnerable and isolated people affected by significant life changing events, being victims of crime, anti-social behaviour, neighbour disputes - Perceived or Real, who through unfulfilled needs become high impact users on frontline statutory and non-statutory frontline services.

Ø  To Reduce the Severity and Frequency of their calls thereby reduce vulnerability and empower change.

Ø  Reduce the demand on Frontline Policing and other frontline emergency and statutory services.

We offer a non-time specific support which is unique and bespoke for every clients; as we believe every persons experience, story, fears and feelings are different, and therefore one size does not fit all. All we ask is that a person has the will, want and capacity to change, they must set goals; however small, they must ‘bring something to the party’; we are not there to just do everything for them.

This approach is unique in the UK for tackling these issues.

What we do...

We will support someone for as long as they need us; all they have to do is have the will and want to change, we will catch them when they fall, be non-judgemental and we will always be there for them.

We aim to leave people with hope and confidence to lead a happier and more fulfilling life; by helping you to feel safer and improve the circumstances you have found themselves in.

Our core values aim to ensure everyone is EMPOWERED to make life changing choices:

E = Encouragement

M = Mutual Respect

P = Positive Approach

O = Openness

W = Wellbeing

E = Empathy

R = Realistic and Honest

E = Equality and Inclusion

D = Dignity

When supporting people we will:

• Be a listening ear

• Help you learn about themselves

• Help by establishing trust

• Provide new skills and confidence to resolve matters amicably

• Signpost to other services if appropriate

• Support forming new friendships, interests or hobbies

• Robustly challenge inappropriate behaviour

• Act as your advocate


 College of Policing: We have been identified by the ‘College of Policing’ as part of their ‘Top 10’ best practises for demand reduction and the unique way we support vulnerable and isolated people; it reflects the difference you as volunteers and coordinates really make to people we support.

 Please see this case study they prepared for their website; ‘Laura case study’ video on YouTube- https://youtu.be/-KMqSnp6uZ8

 We have be awarded the:

Ø  Durham Constabulary ‘POP’ (Problem Orientated Partnership) award 2017-18

Ø  The National ‘Tilley Award’ for problem solving and demand reduction 2019-20

Ø  Finalists at the International ‘Goldstein Awards’ for problem solving and demand reduction 2019-20

Ø  Finalists in the ‘World Class Policing Awards 2019-2020

 So we know the support we offer works at a practical level and academic level.

We have also received:

Ø  Durham Community Action’ kite mark for excellence in supporting volunteers.

Ø  One of our volunteers received a national award from NEPACS (North Eastern Prison After Care Society) for supporting ex-prisoners

Ø  Another volunteer has achieved runner run in the National ‘Lord Ferrer’s Award’ presented by the Home Office for the outstanding Police and Crime Commissioners volunteer.

We have had an external, and independent, evaluation of the ‘Community Peer Mentors’; which highlighted the amazing results we can achieve when working hand in hand with the referring agency and the clients, by using volunteers to reduce demand and make people’s lives better.

How to Make a Referral? 

Referral Criteria:

We would ALWAYS rather say ‘YES’ than ‘NO’:

Ø  Person MUST be aged 18 or over

Ø  The person MUST be a High Impact User (HIU) on the police as well as other organisations.

Ø  The person MUST have the ‘Will’, ‘Want’ and/or ‘Capacity’ to change, this includes those in recovery, if they DO NOT want to change we will NOT be able to support them.

Owing to COVID we have changed our criteria to offer support to those suffering from social isolation or anxiety owing to the current situation, we have dropped the ‘high impact user’ caveat; this has resulted in a massive increase in referrals and demand for our support.

Just Remember:

We are a ‘STEP DOWN SERVICE’; NOT a replacement for formal care.

Initially welook to provide ADDITIONAL and NOT ‘SOLE’ support.

We have proved how effective we can be for those who have been in crisis; we continue to build self-confidence, learn new ways to deal with situations, sign posting, reduce demand and help to reintegrate back into society. 

v  The Area Coordinator will make the Final Decision on further engagement based on their assessment.

There are NO referral forms; to make a referral to Community.PeerMentors@durham.pnn.police.uk 

 All we need is:

Ø  The person’s name, address, contact number, age and if they have agreed to be referred.

Ø  What are the main issues and what do they want to happen

Ø  Any other information or risks.

Wish to become a volunteer?

We are looking for kind hearted and enthusiastic volunteers to make a real difference to vulnerable and isolated people across county Durham and Darlington.

No previous experience in volunteering or supporting people is required; all we need is your enthusiasm and willingness to help others. Community Peer Mentors work in pairs to engage with clients to identify the root cause of any issues, thereby empowering and encouraging the client to reintegrate back into the community.

Safeguarding people already identified as vulnerable is our main focus and concern; therefore all our volunteers will receive a DBS and police check, they will complete safeguarding and our training prior to engaging with a client.

We need people with life experiences so whatever your background, whatever has happened in your life do not let this be a barrier to YOU applying.

Ø  No age limits on people who wish to be Community Peer Mentors.

Ø  Travel, mileage and out of pocket expenses will be paid to volunteers when supporting clients.

Ø  Ongoing and additional training provided free of charge.

Ø  No set hours: whatever suits you be

Ø  YOU DECIDE where in County Durham or Darlington you would like to be a ‘Community Peer Mentor’

The training is held across County Durham and Darlington, delivered by qualified and experienced facilitators. We offer a one day ‘taster’ session which should you wish to join us is followed by some ‘top up training’. The training provides opportunities to learn using various different mentoring techniques.

The Training:

Our approach utilises the ‘GROW’ model (Goal – Realistic – Options – Will and want to change) working hand in hand with the problem solving approach using the SARA Model (Scanning – Analysis – Response – Assessment); both these approaches means you have to adopt a cyclical and not linear approach; thereby providing a bespoke and not generic approach to each client based on their individual circumstances.

Feedback from Training

‘’Group interactions and learning form others’ experiences was excellent”

“Very accommodating and the trainers are such fun!”

“The training was far superior to anything I have experienced before”

“Receiving the training has built my self-confidence”

Get in touch

If you require any further information about the Community Peer Mentors please contact Jim Cunningham for further information, either by telephone or email:


Community Peer Mentor Leaflets

Project Information


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